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Equality chiefs launch investigation of Yorkshire cricket bosses over racism row

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A former Yorkshire cricketer says he does not remember Michael Vaughan telling a group of players of Asian heritage there were ‘too many of you lot’.

Ajmal Shahzad was present with his teammates Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan at the game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 2009 when Vaughan allegedly made the racist remark.

The comment came to light in Yorkshire’s report into allegations of racism by Rafiq who was found to have been called a ‘p***’ by teammate Gary Ballance, but the club decided no action was necessary.

Vaughan allegedly said to the British-Asian players: ‘Too many of you lot, we need to do something about.’

All-rounder Rana Naved ul-Hasan supported Rafiq and said he remembered the remark, which Vaughan has categorically denied.

Vaughan was later stood down from Monday’s Tuffers and Vaughan Show on BBC Radio 5 Live. 

But Shahzad, the first British-born Asian to play for Yorkshire, has said he has no recollection of the incident. 

Michael Vaughan is battling to save his reputation after former Yorkshire player Rana Naved ul-Hasan supported Azeem Rafiq's claim that the ex-England captain made a racist comment towards Asian players in 2009

Michael Vaughan is battling to save his reputation after former Yorkshire player Rana Naved ul-Hasan supported Azeem Rafiq’s claim that the ex-England captain made a racist comment towards Asian players in 2009

Shahzad, the first British-born Asian to play for Yorkshire, has said he has no recollection of the incident

Shahzad, the first British-born Asian to play for Yorkshire, has said he has no recollection of the incident

Equality chiefs are probing Yorkshire Cricket Club for its failure to crack down on 'bullying and racial harassment' from its own report amid fresh allegations of abuse. Pictured: Gary Ballance with Azeem Rafiq

Equality chiefs are probing Yorkshire Cricket Club for its failure to crack down on ‘bullying and racial harassment’ from its own report amid fresh allegations of abuse. Pictured: Gary Ballance with Azeem Rafiq

He said: ‘No, the senior guys were really good to me. They took me under their wing. I’ve only got good things to say about those people because they looked after me and nurtured me.’ 

Rashid is yet to comment on it and is currently playing for England in the T20 World Cup.

Vaughan completely and categorically denied the accusations on Thursday in his Daily Telegraph column. In the article, he had described reading the allegations that had been made about him as like being struck over the head with a brick.

The differing versions of events mean it is still not known what exactly occurred. But in an exclusive interview with Sportsmail, Naved expressed ‘shock’ at the former England captain’s denial and claimed there are ‘lots of racists at Yorkshire’.

Naved said: ‘Yes, yes, it’s true but he (Vaughan) has denied it. I’m very shocked about that, it’s true what Rafiq has alleged. He (Vaughan) was there, I was there and he used those words and he’s denied it. He definitely said it, I’m sure.

‘I was really shocked—- why is he denying these things? He was a senior player who played for England as well and he’s a very responsible man, but he’s denying it. Rafiq is right. That’s why I’m backing him, he’s right. I’m not thinking, ‘Oh I’m Asian, Rafiq’s also Asian so I’ll back him’. No — I’m telling you the truth.’ 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission's chief executive Marcial Boo (pictured) said he is 'deeply concerned' with the claims

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s chief executive Marcial Boo (pictured) said he is ‘deeply concerned’ with the claims

The former Pakistan star was asked why he did not complain immediately and added: ‘I did nothing at the time because I was a professional player then. As Muslims, we just try and play cricket and be fair.

‘I’m reacting now because it’s a true story and he’s denied it.

‘He was a senior player at the time, captain or vice-captain as well and we respect the senior people. That’s why I ignored it. Those words are not good for us, especially Asian people.’

Shahzad, who currently works as a bowling coach for Derbyshire, previously said he had not experienced racism at Yorkshire unlike his teammates.

He told Sportsmail earlier this year before Vaughan was named: ‘I know Azeem has said he experienced some unsavoury and unsettling times and I do feel for him – nobody should be subjected to things like that – but my experiences at Yorkshire were always good, if truth be told.

‘The people, the backroom staff, the environment were brilliant and I’ve still got very good friends from that time.

Vaughan was named in the Rafiq report — but denied claims that he told a group of Yorkshire players with Asian heritage that there were ‘too many of you lot'

Vaughan was named in the Rafiq report — but denied claims that he told a group of Yorkshire players with Asian heritage that there were ‘too many of you lot’

‘I can only speak highly of Yorkshire and the guys who were involved in my time. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the man I am now and I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.’

The former England fast bowler has not been afraid to speak out about the issues of racism in cricket, but his opinions differ from some of his contemporaries.

He said: ‘As a South Asian community, we cannot say that the pathways are closed or there’s racism out there. 

‘I think that’s a very easy place to go and it’s actually a very bad place to go.’

After initially attempting to become an accountant, Shahzad coached at Ampleforth College near York then helped out unpaid with the MCC Young Cricketers before becoming their head coach. Following two years at Lord’s, he was appointed by Derbyshire in February.

Shahzad became the first Yorkshire-born Asian to play a Test match for England back in 2010

Shahzad became the first Yorkshire-born Asian to play a Test match for England back in 2010

‘In South Asian families such as mine, the men are the ones who go out and earn the crust,’ says Shahzad. ‘So from my playing days when the crust was strong, to walking away with just £20 a day was a tough pill to swallow with a young family to look after.

‘I needed to get back on the horse. I knocked on five doors and none opened. I knocked on 10 and none opened. So I knocked on 45 and one of them opened.

‘Some people might think there are barriers because they’ve knocked on two doors and none of them opened. But in my mind, you’ve not knocked on enough doors. Don’t blame the person behind the door. Go knock on somebody else’s door.

‘The easy thing to say is “there’s just no opportunity there” or “they look within”. People get disheartened and say “it’s because of this, this and this”. Well actually no it’s not, you’re just not up to standard.

‘At the end of the day, we’re in professional sport. Don’t expect a handout from anybody. That’s something I learnt from a young age from my dad. If something becomes difficult to get and you finally get it, you appreciate it so much more.’ 

Amid the racism row engulfing Yorkshire, equality chiefs have announced they will probe the club for its failure to crack down on ‘bullying and racial harassment’ from its own report.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have asked the club for information and could enforce a legally binding agreement which could result in court action if it is not adhered to.

The organisation’s chief executive Marcial Boo said: ‘As Britain’s equality regulator, we are deeply concerned about the incidents of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. 

‘We have written to YCCC to ask for more information, including a full copy of their investigation report, to determine if there has been a breach of the law. We will take action if so. 

‘All employers have a duty to protect their employees from bullying and harassment. We met the English Cricket Board in April to discuss how this can be achieved in the sport.’

The investigation was sparked by Yorkshire clearing Gary Ballance of any wrongdoing after he was found to have called his teammate Azeem Rafiq a ‘p***’ in the club’s own report.

The growing scandal has led to calls for chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon to follow outgoing chairman Roger Hutton in resigning.

It comes amid fresh claims of racism at the club after another player of Asian heritage said he was the victim of numerous instances of racist abuse, ‘both blatant and sly’, during his time at the club in the early 2000s and said: ‘I had a player p*ss on my head’.

The player, who has asked not to be named because he does not want his family to know what he endured, left the club disillusioned after saying he didn’t receive the same opportunities as white cricketers. He also says he was told his allegations would be looked into, which they never were.

In a statement that has not been made public but has been seen by Sportsmail, the player says it took him ‘several years to get myself together’ after his experiences at Yorkshire.

He added: ‘Everyone in the Asian cricketing community has known Yorkshire County Cricket Club is racist, yet somehow they have been able to cunningly continue with their agenda.

‘There are many Asian cricketers like myself who have had their careers ruined, but have moved on and taken the treatment on the chin. I salute them all, as it can’t have been easy.’ 

On Wednesday, Ballance apologised but not before sponsors began cutting ties with the county and the England and Wales Cricket Board suspended international matches at Headingley, the club’s ground.

The club’s new chair Lord Patel of Bradford is hoping to rebuild the club and says he has personally been affected by racism while growing up.

Patel, 61, arrived with his family in Yorkshire from Kenya in the early 1960s and credited his childhood love of cricket for turning him into a successful public figure.

He was made a life peer and served as a minister in Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

Lord Kamlesh Patel, pictured, has been appointed the new head of Yorkshire cricket in an effort to lead the club out of its current crisis

Lord Kamlesh Patel, pictured, has been appointed the new head of Yorkshire cricket in an effort to lead the club out of its current crisis

A man in a flat cap next to a sign that reads "YCCC racists shame our county and game" that is displayed in a bus stop near Yorkshire County Cricket Club's Headingley Stadium

A man in a flat cap next to a sign that reads ‘YCCC racists shame our county and game’ that is displayed in a bus stop near Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Headingley Stadium

He told ESPNcricinfo: ‘When I was a boy I developed into a very fast runner.

‘Do you know why? Because gangs of skinheads used to delight in what they called P**i-bashing and you either learned to run or you took a beating.

‘So that word – the P**i word – has real meaning for me. I don’t need to be told it’s not banter.’

Amid the growing storm, coach Andrew Gale has been accused of sending an anti-Semitic tweet when he was captain of the club.

Gale sent a tweet to Leeds United’s then head of media Paul Dews in 2010 that included the words ‘button it y**!’, Jewish News reported yesterday.

The Yorkshire coach said he was ‘completely unaware’ of the offensive nature of the term when he sent the tweet, which was deleted soon after it was posted. 

‘This post is part of a conversational thread between Paul Dews and myself,’ said Gale. ‘The reference is to a chant that was prevalent at the time towards Leeds fans.

‘Within a few minutes of the post Paul called me and explained the meaning of the word and that it was offensive to Jews. I was completely unaware of this meaning and deleted it immediately. I would never have used that word had I been aware of its offensive meaning and I haven’t used it since.’  

How the Yorkshire Cricket Club scandal unfolded and what will happen next

2008-2018: Azeem Rafiq spends 10 years at Yorkshire CCC, becoming their youngest-ever captain and first of Asian origin in 2012.

September 2020: Yorkshire launch investigation as Rafiq reveals that ‘deep-rooted’ racism at the club left him ‘close to committing suicide’. ‘I would regularly come home from training and cry all day,’ he said. Accusations included people saying there was ‘too many of you lot’ referring to Rafiq and Asian team-mates.

December 2020: Rafiq files legal claim against the county, claiming he suffered ‘direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, as well as victimisation and detriment as a result of his efforts to address racism at the club’.

June 2021: Report is delayed and Rafiq’s lawyer says the pushbacks ‘create a lack of faith in the entire process’. Employment tribunal is held but parties fail to resolve the dispute.

August 2021: Yorkshire issue ‘profound apologies’ to Rafiq as report finds he was ‘the victim of inappropriate behaviour’. But they do not accept the claim of institutional racism – Rafiq accuses the county of ‘fudging’ his claims and promised he was ‘not going away’.

September 2021: ECB are ‘very concerned’ with the summary of the panel’s findings, with Yorkshire admitting Rafiq was the victim of ‘racial harassment and bullying’. 

But just seven of the 43 allegations made are upheld, with Yorkshire saying they do not intend to publish a full report.

October 2021: Yorkshire say they will not take disciplinary action against any of its employees following the report. Rafiq writes on Twitter that the club is ’embarrassing’, saying it gives a ‘green light’ to racism.

This week: Details of the report are published by ESPNcricinfo, including a senior player’s admission that he repeatedly used the word ‘P***’ in reference to Rafiq, which was deemed ‘banter’. Health secretary Sajid Javid said ‘heads should roll’, with the Prime Minister asking the ECB to investigate. 

This week: MailOnline reveals the player was Rafiq’s former Yorkshire team-mate, England batsman Gary Ballance. Sponsors Anchor Butter, Yorkshire Tea and Emerald all cut ties with the club.

What’s next?: Rafiq, Yorkshire now ex-chairman Roger Hutton and director of cricket Martyn Moxon will give evidence to the DCMS committee on November 16. ‘Time for the full truth,’ said Rafiq on Tuesday. 

Yorkshire are facing commercial pressure with sponsors ending association, while legal claims are still not resolved.



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